Eastleigh’s Lib Dem leader Keith House has told Eastleigh News he is ‘very sad’ over Chris Huhne’s resignation and has paid tribute to Huhne’s record as a constituency MP saying he had a ‘terrific reputation as a really hard-working member of parliament”
Cllr House had spent hours in the town centre today conducting back-to-back interviews with mainstream media journalists who had descended on the town en-masse following Huhne’s shock resignation announcement live on national television.
However after a long day of defending his former colleague the local party leader could barely hide his disappointment.
Despite having been left hanging round in the cold by TV crews while wearing just a lightweight suit, Cllr House took time to reassure Eastleigh voters that local Lib Dems could still be trusted to deliver services and that residents with problems should contact Councillors who will look after Mr Huhne’s casework until such time as a new MP is elected.
The Lib dem leader also said he didn’t believe the Huhne trial would damage his party’s prospects in the forthcoming county council elections insisting that the local party would be judged on its track record in the Borough which he described as a decade of below inflation council tax rises with services protected.
When asked if he would consider standing in the By-election he empathetically dismissed the idea and said that a candidate had not yet been selected adding:
“We are a democratic party you know”
Eastleigh has been regarded as a Liberal Democrat stronghold in recent years, bucking the national trend with a sitting Lib Dem MP since 1994 and a commanding 40 out of 44 seats on the council.
A reversal at the polls here, either in the by-election or in the County, would signal a serious deterioration in wider Lib Dem fortunes.
Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik described the forthcoming by-election as a ‘test’ for party leader Nick Clegg.
Huhne’s resignation makes Eastleigh by/election a test case for Clegg’s leadership. No point in pretending otherwise
— Lembit Öpik (@lembitopik) February 4, 2013